Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS)

Tennessee Lives Count CONNECT2
Garrett Lee Smith State

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) proposes “Tennessee Lives Count Connect2” to reduce suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and suicide deaths among youth and young adults ages 10-24 by building on existing grant-funded suicide prevention and early intervention strategies to enhance and expand capacity statewide, including enhanced follow-up in 30 focus counties for 5,000 unduplicated individuals (Year 1: 750; Years 2-5: 1,063 annually). The focus area is the State of Tennessee, comprising urban and rural populations with multiple socioeconomic disparities (e.g., high poverty, unemployment) that contribute to high risk for suicidal ideation and behaviors among youth/young adults. Tennessee’s suicide rate for the state (16.8) exceeds the national rate (14.0), and 1,163 Tennesseans died by suicide in 2017. Among the focus population, 35% are enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and 65% are enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program. Focus county schools serve over 6,200 students with an identified severe emotional disturbance/mental illness, with 31.5% of state high school youth reporting they felt so sad they stopped usual activities, 17% seriously considered suicide, and 14% made a suicide plan. Of the 128,000+ calls to the Statewide Crisis Line, 16% were made by youth under 17. TDMHSAS will partner with Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network and Centerstone of Tennessee to provide suicide prevention and postvention trainings for gatekeepers (schools, law enforcement, foster care, etc.) and training for primary/behavioral health professionals, screening/assessment, early intervention, follow-up, outreach/education, and linkages to treatment services, using the RELATE curriculum, based on evidence-based theory and incorporating evidence-based approaches, and the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS). Connect2 will also strengthen public/private collaborations and support higher learning institutions to train students in recognizing early signs of suicide and referring individuals needing help. Outcomes will include reduction in suicidal ideation and suicide attempts by 30% and suicide deaths by 10%. An existing Youth Advisory Leadership Council comprising stakeholders and focus population members will support Connect2’s goals/objectives: (1) increasing gatekeeper/stakeholder capacity to identify/refer youth at risk of suicide; (2) increasing stakeholder capacity to assess, manage, and treat youth/young adults at risk for suicide; (3) expanding provision of enhanced follow-up for youth experiencing suicidal ideation and/or a suicide attempt; (4) increasing risk identification, referral, and behavioral health services utilization; (5) increasing the promotion and utilization of crisis response services; (6) implementing key elements of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention to reduce rates of suicidal ideation, attempts, and deaths for youths/young adults ages 10-24 in Tennessee; and (7) conducting a comprehensive evaluation and developing/disseminating a thoroughly documented service model for replication/adoption across the state and nation. Evaluation will report as required on participant outcomes and on progress and performance regarding infrastructure development.